The UAE federal government is working on laws to regulate the nascent organic food industry and is expected to complete the process next year, said an industry player.
Currently there are no laws related to governing the local industry and imports of organic food items into the country, said Juma Al Hosani, Chairman of Organic, a newly-launched company exclusively focused on natural products in the UAE.
The new laws are aimed at strict monitoring and limiting import of organic food items from certain registered companies from Europe and US, he said, adding that the government is also considering issuing certifications for locally-produced organic food items and labelling of organic food items.
Al Hosani was speaking at a press conference to announce the ninth edition of the Middle East Natural and Organic Products Expo (Menope), which will run on December 5-7 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Over 100 exhibitors from 25 countries will take part in the niche show. The highlights of the three-day expo includes the two-day MEVEG Conference and a conference on traditional complementary and alternative medicines.
Al Hosani said organic food items’ prices are high compared to conventional food items due to high cost of production. “The prices (of organic food items) could come down if more companies enter into this sector and volumes increase.”
Confirming the growth trend and the potential, Al Hosani said: “Awareness is the key to the growth of the organic sector and thanks to the increase in the number of players in the market and the competitive environment it will create; there will be enhanced efforts at educating the consumer on the benefits of these products.”
Al Hosani said his company imports food from US and European companies as local soil is not conducive for mass cultivation of organic food.
Nadim Al Fuqaha, Managing Director, Global Links, organisers of Menope, said: “From a slow beginning, the regional organic products market is certainly on an upswing as more and more consumers continue to shift away from conventional encouraged by the health benefits of these products. The gradual expansion of the organic market base is also fuelled by the entry of a host of new focused players bringing in new products and global brands into the regional market.”
Organic and natural cosmetics are also a growth sector, said Yasmina Mungroo, Co-managing Director of Dubai on Heels, which represents Nafha, a French organic cosmetics range. “Organic cosmetics is on a growth curve in the Middle East and though the current market share is only 0.1 per cent compared to over 3 per cent in European and North American markets, the potential to grow is huge,” she added.